My younger brother, Ethan, is in gr. 12 this year which means he is going through the stressful process of choosing a University. Luckily for him he has me, his smart, helpful, beautiful, older sister to lead the way. Unfortunately my brother thinks I’m pretty lame and who knows if he will actually take any of this advice, so I am sharing it to the interwebs to make sure none of it goes to waste! Check out my last Dear Ethan post right here!
I would like to just call out the fact that you are a horrible texter. And that is saying a lot coming from me, who is one of the worst texters I know. I say this only because I love you and gosh darn it I wish you would answer my “what’s up” with more than just with more than just a “nothing much”.
You and I were able to catch up over dinner this past weekend; I would just like to clarify for everyone else reading this that there is A LOT going on in your life right now. You just finished your soccer season as starting goalie, you have a lead in the school play, you are buying tickets to semi (which by the way my offer to help you pick an outfit still stands) and you just got your G2. You, my friend, are killing it (and giving me a run for money in terms of most successful Kazdan child, so slow down before Mom and Dad decide to give you all their inheritance).
But on top of this, you have also recently brought home your OUAC code. Those 11 digits have suddenly opened the door to endless post-secondary possibilities. Which is exciting… and terrifying.
Now for those of you reading from outside of Ontario, OUAC stands for Ontario University Application Center, and it is essentially the home base for Ontario High School students to apply to any University across Ontario. These codes (which students get from their guidance counsellors) are the first step Ontario students make in their University decision making process.
So now that you have access to start applying to schools it is time to start sorting through all the literature you’ve gathered from OUF and in-school visits and narrow down exactly where you want to apply (this involves asking for mom’s credit card so choose wisely).
This is easier said than done, and as you will soon learn, causes you to call into question pretty much everything you know about yourself. Do you want to study in a small town or a big city? What should you major in? Do you want to stay home or go away? How important is school spirit? Do you like the idea of large lecture halls or small seminars? And the list goes on and on… It’s enough to drive someone crazy, especially when everyone over the age of 10 is asking you “So what are your plans for next year?”
It is clear that choosing where to apply is stressful, but as the OUAC due date slowly inches closer, here are some tips to help ease your decision from your incredibly smart, talented, beautiful older sister… me!
STEP 1: Imagine your DREAM life
One thing that people seem to neglect to think about while choosing a school is that it is about way more than just the program, it’s a lifestyle. So before narrowing in on exactly what and where you want to study, I would think about HOW you want to study. Imagine your dream life 3-4 years from now when you are in your groove nearing the end of your degree: What types of classes are you taking? Where do you go to study for exams? What about writing an essay? What do you want to be doing on a Friday night? Do you want to live at home? If not where do you live? With who? And how often do you want to come home and visit? What types of extracurriculars are you doing? Where do you want to work? Where do you want to get your coffee? Groceries? Clothes?
STEP 2: Pick your Non-Negotiables
Now that you have an idea of your dream life in your head you unfortunately have to come to terms with the fact that it’s next to impossible for any one school to check all your boxes. That being said you definitely can find a school that will cater to most of what you want, you find these schools by picking your non-negotiables. Going back to your dream life description pick three things that you deem MANDATORY in your future school. They can be as silly or serious as you would like but remember you only have three. For me, my non-negotables were : a school in a city, the chance to take theatre/performances classes, and a single room if I decided to live on residence. It’s important to keep an open mind when looking into Universities, but by keeping a short list of personal priorities in mind, it’s much easier to weed out schools that don’t align with your lifestyle.
STEP 3: Research and Visit
With your new list of non-negotiables en tête you can start deep diving in those Viewbooks that have been collecting dust at the back of your closet. You should now have a better idea of what you are looking for and can then start narrowing down the schools you would like to go visit. It goes without saying, but coming to check out a school in person is really the only way to get a feel for what what the campus is really like. So, if its possible plan to visit every school you wish to apply to (most schools offer Weekday and Weekend Tours) and start booking these trips now (because Mom will not be impressed if you spring a 6 hour road trip on her last minute…)
Hopefully these tips are helpful to get you started with the whole applying process (or at least give you a framework of what to say when you are bombarded with “What are you doing with your life?” questions at Christmakkah dinner). Just know that you don’t need to have all the answers right away but I’m always free talk if you need.
Also text me back,
Your bossy older sister,
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